Jason (High Priest)

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Jason (Hebrew: Yason, יאסון) of the Oniad family, brother to Onias III, was a High Priest in the Temple in Jerusalem. Josephus records that his name, before he hellenised it, was originally Jesus (Hebrew יֵשׁוּעַ Yēshua`).[1]

Jason became high priest in 175 BCE after the accession of Antiochus IV Epiphanes to the throne of the Seleucid Empire.[citation needed]

In an ongoing dispute between the current High Priest, Onias III, and Simon the Benjamite, Jason offered to pay Antiochus in order to be confirmed as the new High Priest in Jerusalem. Antiochus accepted the offer and further allowed Jason to build a gymnasium in Jerusalem and create a Greek-style Polis named after the king, Antioch.[citation needed]

With the creation of Antioch, Jason abandoned the ordinances given under Antiochus III the Great, which defined the polity of the Judeans according to the Torah.

Jason's time as High Priest was brought to an abrupt end in 171 BCE when he sent Menelaus, the brother of Simon the Benjamite, to deliver money to Antiochus. Menelaus took this opportunity to "outbid" Jason for the priesthood, resulting in Antiochus confirming Menelaus as the High Priest. Jason fled Jerusalem and found refuge in the land of the Ammonites.[citation needed]

In 168 BCE Jason made a failed attempt to regain control of Jerusalem. Fleeing again to Ammon, he then continued to Egypt, then finally to Sparta, where he died and was buried.[citation needed]

A "letter to the Jews in Egypt", which opens the Second Book of Maccabees, refers to the actions of Jason as a cause of distress, which "revolted against the holy land and the kingdom, set fire to the gatehouse and shed innocent blood".[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  • Cohen, Shaye J.D. (2006). From the Maccabees to the Mishnah. Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press. ISBN 0-664-22743-0.
  •  Emil G. Hirsch; Isaac Broydé; Richard Gottheil; Samuel Krauss (1901–1906). "Jason (Jeshua or Jesus)". In Singer, Isidore; et al. (eds.). The Jewish Encyclopedia. New York: Funk & Wagnalls.
Jewish titles
Preceded by
Onias III
High Priest of Israel
175 BC—172 BC
Succeeded by